When Northern Youth MP Evelyn Anite knelt down to read a resolution urging President Museveni to stand as the candidate for NRM in 2016, one could not help but think of the bible.
It is written in Psalm 8:2 that “from the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” To this we shall return.
This resolution effectively cut out the ambitions of the likes of Secretary General Amama Mbabazi and those who nursed ideas to encourage Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to vie for the top post.
Our minds are aware of the aspirations of the likes of Mike Mukula and Gilbert Bukenya, which we treat with the seriousness they deserve by letting them pass without comment.
NRM caucus Kyankwazi retreat laid bare the fact that most people who claim to be close confidants of President Museveni, actually do not know him well. Neither do they seem to know the party they claim to belong to and wish to lead.
Mr Museveni, the politician, is a military General with an antiquated but practical feudal disposition. He is a patriarch. His understanding of leadership is not far from the realm of unquestioned supreme command and control.
Museveni knows that to effectively run a State with this outlook, one needs to borrow from the chiefs of old: the Shaka Zulus, Nyungu Ya Mawes, Kabalegas and Ssekabaka Ssunas.
And to be like these great men of old, one has to be the supreme figure on the political landscape. He should be autocratic and the people around him, subservient. He ought to control people by being their sole provider and their key to the facilities of livelihood.
Uganda today is dominated by young people. Almost 60 per cent of the population is under 30. Many of these young people have a formal school education but have no chance of employment. The figures of youth unemployment range between 70-80 per cent.
It is smarter and easier for people to be beholden to the President who holds the power and the economic purse. The path to the President’s bosom may guarantee one social safety than searching for answers in dead institutions.
This renders the talk of ‘robust manifesto’, ‘party structures’ and ‘internal democracy’, National Executive Council and Central Executive Committee an academic exercise, especially if one wants to move places. The youth in NRM have demonstrated this knowledge and desire.
As Journalist Onapito Ekomoloit put it, it is ‘reckless’ for a member of the NRM Organisation to contend with Museveni as long as Museveni is still interested in leading NRM.
Mr Museveni’s next move with the young people who are kneeling down to urge him is borrowed from George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Napoleon who took the puppies from their parents and ‘made himself responsible for their education’ later uses them to attack his enemies, strengthen and protect his leadership.
What Museveni gives these young people in return is skewed hope. In their minds now stands two things. One, if Museveni stays on for another say 15 years, by the time he retires, those around him will be old and grey and the baton will fall down to them.
Second is that helping Museveni ‘neutralise’ his opponents is helping his alleged successor have an easier path to power by removing the obstacle of the old guard who are Museveni’s contemporaries. They view themselves as King Makers for the one who comes after Museveni and with this a reward shall come.
As Jonathan Swift said in the ‘Political Conversation’, there is none so blind as those that refuse to see. Those who still see NRM as a democratic institution are bound to suffer humiliation.
Mr Sengoba is a commentator on political and social issues. firstname.lastname@example.org